Cirencester Town Dev force champions elect Fairford Town to keep the champagne on ice
Report by Danny Hall, Sports Editor at the Wilts and Glos Standard
Uhlsport Hellenic Div One West
Cirencester Town Dev 3
Fairford Town 2
RUNAWAY Hellenic League leaders Fairford Town hoped to confirm their title victory with a win at the Corinium Stadium but the youthful Cirencester Town Development side misread the script.
Goals from Captain Liam James, Dan Roberts and a clincher for (still) the league's top scorer Danny Gudger helped Ciren finish their season on a high – and they were well worth their three points as they inflicted only Fairford's third league defeat of the season.
Fairford boss Gareth Davies had hoped his side would not suffer a negative reaction to their marvelous midweek cup win against clear Western Premier League leaders Bristol Manor Farm side but his fears were realised as his team put in a below-par display.
They enjoyed their most fluent spell for 20 minutes in the first half without making it count. And although Fairford cranked up the pressure in the second period, Ciren showed real determination, allowing stand-in keeper Ant Brown to have an unexpectedly quiet afternoon in the hosts' goal.
Brown had come in as an emergency signing this week from Malmesbury Vics (who were without a game) because of an injury to Lewis Meredith.
Fairford's back four looked strong and composed throughout, with skipper Sam Ockwell and Aaron Dainton outstanding, but the stats show they conceded three goals.
Fairford had one hand on the title trophy as early as the 14th minute, when a possibly offside Lee Smith found a lot of space in the centre of the Ciren defence to collect a through ball from Josh Morse and pick out the corner of the net via Brown's outstretched hand.
The visitors then lost their most prolific striker when Jason Milhench (briefly a Cirencester player earlier this season) had to be substituted in the 28th minute after failing to recover from an accidental clash of heads with Ciren defender Robbie James.
Ciren came back into the game in the latter part of the first half and Liam James powered home a header from a Gudger corner in the 36th minute.
Gudger and Morse should both have done better with chances early in the second half before Roberts put the hosts ahead with a clinical finish from the edge of the box in the 53rd minute.
Fairford belatedly began to crank up the pressure and Dan Drewett (twice), Morse and sub Dan Reynolds all went close.
But Ciren, so resolute at the back, continued to look dangerous on the break and they caught Fairford with a lightning counter in the 84th minute.
Brown, whose handling and distribution had been excellent throughout, found Charlie Buse with a kick from hand and he in turn played in Gudger who hit a stunning first-time volley from 20 yards which crashed home off the underside of the bar to give him a 32nd goal of the season.
A certain naivety from Ciren, when they should have been running the clock down, allowed Smith to nip in to score his second in stoppage time.
Fairford Town will now hope to win at home to lowly Milton United on Tuesday night to spark the championship-winning celebrations.
Cirencester Town: Brown, Francis, Brereton, R James, Armold, L James (capt), Roberts, Walsh (Allen, 60), Lloyd (S Reynolds, 55), Buse, Gudger.
Fairford Town: Mitchell, Chilcott (D Reynolds, 57), Saunders, Ockwell (capt), Dainton, Boucher, Blackford, Drewett, Smith, Morse, Milhench (Cox, 28).